“What it’s like to deal with backhanded compliments as a plus size woman”

Written by Leah Sinclair

Stylist spoke to three women about the backhanded compliments they receive for simply being themselves  and how they deal with them.

Receiving a backhanded compliment can leave you feeling extremely conflicted.

It can leave you dwelling on the words that came spiralling towards you, breaking down each element of the supposed “compliment” to establish if the person knew just how shady and condescending the comment was or if you’re merely overanalysing it?

Chances are, though, you’re not overanalysing it. Receiving sickly-sweet compliments laced with a venomous snide that you never saw coming is hard to digest – and it’s something that many plus-size women face over and over again.

This was highlighted by Euphoria actor and model Barbie Ferreira in a recent interview with WWD.

In the interview, Ferreira touched on how being a confident plus-size woman can leave you in the firing line of backhanded compliments, telling the publication: “It’s not radical for me to be wearing a crop top. [Comments like those are] just backhanded compliments.”

Being a plus-size woman in the internet age, where conversations around self-love and confidence are at an all-time high, can be both a cause of celebration but also a cause of contention as being just authentically you – wearing what you want, how you want and merely existing like everyone else – can be portrayed as some type of statement on who you are, your core values and what you represent.

“I often get branded with the word ‘brave’,” says Lindsay McGlone. “It feeds into the discourse that as a fat woman it’s a courage’s act to show my body.”

The influencer and activist has been using her platform to talk about her experience as a plus-size woman for over four years, and while she’s cultivated a community of supportive and like-minded individuals, those backhanded compliments can still creep up now and again.

Backhanded compliments: Lindsay McGlone

“I have been lucky enough to surround myself with good people and my community online, but when I do get those comments, it makes me quite annoyed and then I think to myself: ‘Why has that person phrased it this way?’ I try and understand their logic.”

McGlone finds that these types of compliments directed her way have primarily come from cisgender men, with some declaring that they find her attractive but “wouldn’t usually go for a fat bird”.

“It’s always some really backhanded way of trying to say that I make the cut,” she states. “In my personal opinion, if a man feels the need to declare my weight before they tell me that I’m somewhat desirable, they are definitely not on my radar.”

Backhanded compliments: Ella Foote (Photo: Fran McColl)

For journalist and swimmer Ella Foote, she is frequently told how “brave” and “amazing” she is to be photographed in a swimsuit. “It is the worst compliment of all,” she admits.

“When people say this, all I hear is that my body isn’t socially or culturally acceptable, so it takes an act of bravery to stand so exposed for all to see. It is assumed that if I am there in my swimsuit being filmed or photographed, I am some sort of fat and proud person.”

While the body positivity movement has allowed discussion around larger bodies to evolve, comments like this prove that there is still a long way to go when it comes to the discourse around women’s bodies.

“There are some clear-cut trolls who will say the most obvious and deliberately hurtful or contentious things. These are easily ignored. The darkest comments and opinions can come from those who think they are saying supportive, kind things, like ‘You are so brave’ when actually they have serious feelings inside about their own bodies and yours,” she says.

“Unless someone is actually talking about their body in a way that invites comment, we really we need to think about why we are even remarking on appearance.” 

Backhanded compliments: Claire Jacobs

Blogger Claire Jacobs has taken a similar approach to these types of comments in a bid to not allow the views of others and societal standards feed into her own self worth.

“I try to avoid feeding into the archaic views of big women not being attractive and I do wear more clothes that years ago I would have avoided, assuming I was too large to wear them.”

Jacobs says she has spent time reframing her way of thinking when it comes to plus-size bodies, particularly when dealing with backhanded compliments she receives.

“I tend to wear very bold, loud, casual clothing, and get backhanded compliments like ‘Wow I wish I was that brave to wear those’. I’ve also been told my face is pretty, specifically ignoring my body, and being told ‘Imagine how pretty you would be if you were slimmer too’.

These types of comments used to have a drastic effect on Jacobs, who found that the body positivity movement was great to see online but struggled to find this same appreciation in real life – especially when it came to dating.

“I’ve seen plus-size bodies celebrated and welcomed online but I haven’t seen anyone openly praise plus size women sadly.

“And when it comes to dating, I got a lot of men who would say: ‘You have a nice face; what dress size are you though?’”

“At times, I used to just shrug it off and move the conversation on. Now I’m older and more aware of how wrong these views are to impose on people and I like to think I would challenge them on it.

“Dealing with these comments is difficult but I would encourage women like me to ignore it and to remember that it stems from a lack of education and poor societal messages,” she advises.

McGlone agrees. “Take time for yourself and really be clear on who you are. Nothing makes a person stronger than being unapologetically themselves.”

Image: Lindsay Mcglone; Fran McColl; Claire Jacobs

Source: Read Full Article